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Crushed charcoal is readily eaten by many finches and is also placed in nests by some species. Charcoal acts in the intestine as a natural astringent and can deactivate a range of toxins which may be present. But what is meant by ACTIVATED charcoal?
“ACTIVATED” refers to the level of porosity of the charcoal – essentially its structural surface area – which is the main feature which allows it to readily absorb water, volatile odours and toxins.
Most standard (non-activated) charcoal available on the market has about 20% non- carbon impurities and an average porosity. The manufacture of Activated Charcoal involves heating of carbon-rich materials to very high temperatures but controlling oxygen access to the burning process so that the timber isn’t vaporised to ash but is converted to high quality charcoal.
The high temperature “activation” process strips the charcoal of previously absorbed molecules and frees up bonding sites again. This process also reduces the size of the pores in the charcoal and makes more pores, thereby greatly increasing its overall surface area. For example one teaspoon of finely crushed Activated Charcoal has the surface area of a football field! Our Activated Charcoal is 99.5% carbon and is the highest porosity that can be achieved.This makes it extremely adsorbent, allowing it to bind to molecules, ions, or atoms. In this way, it removes these from dissolved substances.
Our Activated Charcoal is produced from Bulloak (Allocasuarina luehmannii), the hardest timber in Australia, that is harvested under a conservation covenant through selective removal of a small percentage of Bulloak trees.
So is charcoal beneficial for your birds? There is a lot of evidence for therapeutic benefits of activated charcoal in humans, particularly in gut health, but of course no definitive work has been done with birds. We know that many species will consume charcoal in the wild and we have personally seen honeyeaters collecting charcoal from our camp fires. Masked Finches are well known for their fascination with charcoal, both consuming it and placing pieces in their nests. Several other species also do this, both in the wild and in captivity. They don’t do this for fun and it seems reasonable to assume they derive benefit from it.
There is some information which claims that charcoal should not be fed to birds because it may interfere with the absorption of certain vitamins such as A, B2, and K, resulting in deficiencies. However, the vast majority of information scientific sources on charcoal indicates that it is highly beneficial.
Nutrition is all about balance, not excess, and the best judge of what is needed is your bird. Hence it is important that birds can select what they need from a varied diet and not be forced to consume nutrients by having no choice. With products like ACTIVATED CHARCOAL they can select what they need when they need it.
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